Florida Hams Prove that Ham Radio Works When Cell Phones Don’t
After a day of exploring the Green Swamp Wildlife Management Area -- which covers 50,692 protected acres in Florida’s Lake, Polk and Sumter Counties -- with his grandson, Joe Cody, KE4WDP, of Winter Haven, Florida, saw that the roads were flooding and becoming hazardous. As he tried to drive out of the area, Cody’s small pick-up truck got bogged down in the mud. Since he was out of cell phone range, Cody tried calling for help on the Dade City 146.880 repeater. Richard Parker, KF4ORW, of Dade City, Florida, heard the call and answered.
After hearing the situation, Parker called 911 in Pasco County, who put him in touch with the dispatch in neighboring Polk County. Cody passed his location on to Parker, who in turn passed it on to the Polk County Sherriff’s Office. “Polk County 911 took over trying to get help,” Parker said. “They called me back several times for more information and I was able to relay information from Joe to them. Then Ted Bulmanski, W4TKB, who is also from Dade City, started monitoring and copying Joe’s information.”
About 30 minutes later, Parker saw a helicopter fly over and around Cody’s position, and after another 30 minutes, Cody radioed back on the repeater, saying he was on his way home -- thanks to a Lake County Deputy in a Sherriff’s Office truck that had a winch. “We learned that Joe was eight miles inside Lake County,” Parker explained. “That’s why the Lake County Sherriff’s Office responded instead of the Polk County authorities. The Polk County Sherriff’s Office called me back to say that the helicopter from Lake County found the truck inside Lake County and sent both a deputy from Lake County, as well as a Fish and Game Officer and winched him out of the mud. They called me back to thank us for assisting the stranded pair. Ham radio still works when other forms of communications don’t.” -- Thanks to ARRL West Central Florida Section Public Information Coordinator Kevin Poorman, KV4CT, for the information